By Cassandra Pantelidis, The Draft Network Intern
In light of the United States women’s national soccer team winning the World Cup, I thought to myself, “what if *American* football was an Olympic Sport?” Surely, America would dominate the competition and you could probably pick the 11 worst NFL players and they would still bring home the Gold. But this hypothetical selection process has to start with the best of the best.
And so without further ado, I present my selections for Team USA's offensive starters for the 2020 Olympics' football squad:
Quarterback - Patrick Mahomes
As the 2018 NFL MVP, Mahomes threw for over 5,000 yards, becoming the only QB in history to do so in both college and the NFL in a single season. He also joined Tom Brady and Peyton Manning as the only NFL players to throw 50 touchdowns in a single season. Mahomes led his team to the AFC Championship game with his great play making abilities. Once you pair his insane arm strength, play-making ability and his no look passing skills, you have a lethal player who is more than capable to perform at any level.
Fullback - Kyle Juszczyk
Kyle Juszczyk is the most prominent fullback in the NFL. His rushing, receiving, blocking and route running abilities create a weapon for any offense to take advantage of. Last season, he had 340 receiving yards on 30 receptions.
Halfback - Ezekiel Elliott
Ezekiel Elliott rushed for 1,434 yards last season, the most out of any running back. Elliott is one of the most durable running backs in the league, missing seven games in his three seasons playing (none of which were due to injury). He brings the offense consistent production and recently opened up his receiving skills. Elliott poses as a threat to defenses on all three downs but they always need to think about how to control his runs.
Wide Receiver - DeAndre Hopkins
DeAndre Hopkins is the man. He has great hands, rarely drops passes and great body control. The past two seasons, Hopkins has made 1st-Team All-Pro. Even while rotating through mediocre quarterbacks, he was able to average over 1,000 reception yards throughout his career. He isn’t the biggest or fastest but the strength and size of his hands make up for it. Hopkins has a nose for the ball, allowing him to get up in the air and catch the ball in places the defender can’t cover. Not to mention, he was one of four players to join the Madden NFL 99 rating club this year!
Wide Receiver - Julio Jones
At 6-foot-3, Julio Jones has the size and speed that solidify him as a top receiver. He has great body control which gives him the ability to make catches high in the air, land on his feet and extend the play. Jones is the most well-rounded receiver, taking all the skills a receiver should have and performing them at an elite level. He has led the league in yards 3 out of the last 4 seasons.
Tight End - Travis Kelce
Travis Kelce is currently the best TE in the NFL, last season he had 103 receptions for 1,336 yards and 10 touchdowns. Kelce stands at 6’5”, separating himself from his competition with his quickness and route running ability that is not common for his size or position. He is a skilled run-blocker, too. The offensive run game makes no concessions with him on the field.
Left Tackle - David Bakhtiari
This All-Pro lineman is one of the greatest pass blockers in the NFL, after all, he is in charge of protecting Aaron Rodgers blindside. In 737 pass-block snaps, he only allowed 25 pressures. Furthermore, he allowed the lowest pressure rate on third down.
Most importantly? He can chug two beers at the same time.
Left Guard - Quenton Nelson
Quenton Nelson protected Andrew Luck to his first non-injury season, allowing only two sacks in 730 pass-blocking snaps. Nelson’s ability to move, physical play and awareness on the field separate himself from the rest despite being a rookie in 2018.
Center - Alex Mack
Alex Mack is on-point, he has a great use of hands and has strength over nearly every defender he faces. Mack has played a key role in the Falcons offensive line, he is consistent with his blocking and is a reliable zone blocker.
Right Guard - Zack Martin
Zack Martin is the best, most consistent run blocker in the NFL, only missing one game in his career to this point. He has the ability to make even the hardest plays look easy, he opens up holes for his running back and knocks defenders down with ease. Martin has made every Pro-Bowl during his first 5 seasons and earned 3 First-Team All-Pro selections.
Right Tackle - Mitchell Schwartz
Mitchell Schwartz has never missed a single snap in the NFL, playing in all 112 games in 8 seasons. Schwartz is a great pass protector and has a special ability to handle top edge defenders.